NOTE: RARELY do I ever bring up this story to people, let alone have I utilized this particular blog platform for this type of material, but since learning of Chester Bennington’s suicide, I have been recounting some of my life’s darker moments. Maybe one day, I will be brave enough to share all those times in my life with you, but for now, will be sharing a recollection of bullying and bravery in my younger years…
The middle school I attended was strong in its social circles from the get-go. If you had not already been integrated into the district previously, you were an outsider and it was tough to assimilate. My impression of this will forever be imprinted by a girl named Everest*, an out-of-state transferred student.
In my eyes, Everest was the sweetest girl who just wanted to make friends with everybody. Never have I questioned her intentions, I always felt they were pure. I even specifically remember that during our eighth grade class Associated Student Body elections, Everest came up to me right before voting took place to shake hands, congratulate me on a well done campaign, and told me that she placed her vote in me. We were presidential opponents.
Despite such admirable characteristics, Everest was intensely bullied by many individuals at school. She was given awful labels and the rumors about her were atrocious. I never saw any of this affect her when I was around her. I often noticed that she maintained her poise and continued to treat every individual she came across with decency.
One day, at a moment of vulnerability, she was ganged up on and beat up by a team of mean girls who maliciously bullied her for several months. This all happened in front of everybody during a period transition between classes. I can recall that it was not long before school aides came to the rescue to break up the fight, but as a witness, what I saw happened felt like forever. It did not take long for Everest to return to school after healing and even then, she still kept her head held high.
It pains me to make this sentence visible to the world, but the truth is that I was not of any help at the time that Everest was being beat up. I was a frozen bystander. I was part of the problem and not the solution. Since then, I vowed to be a braver person for the people I knew.
It pains me to make this sentence visible to the world, but the truth is that I was not of any help at the time that Everest was being beat up. I was a frozen bystander. I was part of the problem and not the solution.
Exactly four years after that incident, I found myself in a very similar situation with a childhood friend named Jacey*. Although Jacey was not being described as a “slut” or being accused of sleeping around, she experienced a different form of bullying by a classmate who found pleasure in defiling her sense of intelligence and importance. We were assigned permanent seats for the remainder of the class and every day, for one whole semester, I had to mediate and defend Jacey from our tablemate, Austin*.
I probably performed as well as I did in that class because I was so caught up with making sure this classmate never had the upper hand when he felt like he had something smart to say that would equally degrade the girl he despised so much. This included knowing everything there was to know on the course subject while also coaching Jacey on why his comments about her could never amount to anything.
Even sitting in between them could not remedy the situation. I pleaded her to request for a different seating arrangement, but she would not budge. I respected her decision to stay put, even if it meant a little bit of anxiety not knowing what horrible remarks Austin would come up with for her. She chose to stay within our assigned group not only to show off to Austin that she would not stand down, but because she was confident in my abilities to stand up for her when she needed me to.
We both practiced bravery every day in that class, she assured.
WHAT I WAS STRONG ENOUGH TO DO FOR JACEY COULD NEVER MAKE UP FOR WHAT I WAS TOO WEAK TO DO FOR EVEREST, but if I had never picked myself up from that past, living as if my life had not been moved in the slightest bit, I would be living in disservice to others just like Everest.
We all have had a situation where, in retrospect, we might have not done enough to justify the lack of well-being for another person. Have you ever felt any regret, shame or blame of yourself and others for a past situation? Do you find that you are telling yourself that you are not “good enough” to be strong for others because of something you did not have the confidence to do in the past?
There is possibility for us all to be at peace with all of our past choices, actions and decisions. If guilt built from an old incident dictates what you believe about yourself, then perhaps it is time to expose these made up stories for what they are. For every lie you have ever told yourself about your ability to be fearless, your ability to be a champion for yourself, and for others, I challenge you to put an end to these disempowering self-talk statements. I challenge you to begin practicing bravery, even in the smallest of ways, day by day.
Have you ever experienced bullying directly or indirectly? How did you deal with it and what makes you a different person now because of it? Would love to hear your story, questions, comments, quips, quotes & queries in the comment section below or on social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter)…
More editor’s letters.
*Names were altered for privacy.
Outfit Details: Dress – Off The Shoulder Maxi Dress by Chelsea28 from Nordstrom (sold out, similar from Chelsea28, Anthropologie, Macy’s, and ASOS) | Black Kitten Heels by Sam Edelman | Valentino Rockstud Clutch (similar designs/color: here, here, and here) | Gold Bangle (gifted, similar styles here, here & here)
Makeup Details: Chanel Lipstick ‘Pimpante 90’ | NARS Blush in ‘Orgasm‘ | Laura Mercier Oil-Free Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20 in ‘Sand’ | YSL Top Secret BB Cream in ‘Clear’ | YSL Touche Éclat Blur Primer| YSL Touche Éclat Blur Perfector | YSL Touche Éclat in ‘4.5, Luminous Sand’ | NARS Illuminator in ‘Copacabana‘ & ‘Laguna‘ | Anastasia Beverly Hills Perfect Brow Pencil in ‘Soft Brown’